On Fall, the Empty Nest, and What's Going On at Parris House Wool Works

Clothesline Clothes hanging to dry on my new clothesline at the Parris House.
Last night the temperature dove down to 43 degrees Fahrenheit here in Paris, Maine. We had gone for a walk around Paris Hill village after dinner last night and the air felt decidedly September-ish. I know that there are heat waves to come, days of impossibly muggy and hot misery (by Maine standards), but midway through July I am thinking about my life and plans this fall. This year fall looms especially large for me. I love fall. It's by far - far and away - my favorite season. But this year I plan to make a lot of changes, and a lot of changes are inevitably planned for me. The largest of these is the monumental empty nest. My youngest son, of four, is headed out to Troy, NY to embark on his education in applied physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The college drop off thing is now familiar; my oldest being 25 we've been at this for seven years. It never gets better though. I cry at each initial college drop off, not wanting my sons to see that but not being able to control it either. We are the antithesis of helicopter parents. We are happy for the freedom we've given our boys and taken joy in how beautifully, competently, and independently they've handled that freedom. But still...when you take leave of a young adult that first day...well, it hurts. When you take leave of the youngest one, your entire life changes. I plan to be one of those empty nesters who takes her grieving (let's be totally real here - that's what it is), and grabs every consolation prize the empty nest has to offer. And there are many. For example, if I want to make scrambled eggs for dinner, it's happening. If I want to make no dinner and order out, it's happening too. My husband and I, who prefer the company of our sons over any other, will not have to consider what they would enjoy most when planning an outing. I can't say there will be less laundry for me to do, because our boys have done their own from a pretty young age, and honestly, except for dinner, they also cook for themselves. There IS the whole thing about being available for my sons. As parents, we are always on call. I suppose that doesn't change entirely when they leave home, but it is diminished. In other words, the empty nest is not only a new birth of freedom for the offspring, but for the parents. My photo for this post is our new clothesline here at the Parris House, and symbolizes things I am doing simply because I can. I have started hanging my clothes out in the fresh air to dry, because I like to and because I can. There's no draconian homeowners' association in our village to say I can't, and no silly town ordinances. I can do whatever I want here. I can have my hens which provide us and our variety of egg customers with beautiful farm fresh eggs. I can put my garden where I want it, as big as I want it. I can have bee hives next year to similarly supply honey. If I want to build an arts building here in the future (and I do), I can. I can paint my exterior doors purple. Yes. It's happening. This fall. I also plan to apply this new found time and freedom to my work with Parris House Wool Works. This fall we plan to add an ecommerce module, using Shopify, to our website, so that you no longer have to click over to Etsy via a link, but can shop right from the home page. In the Maine studio we are adding Apple Pay to our many methods of payment. We are still working on finding the right assistance for making instructional and just plain entertaining videos for our YouTube channel. One of my primary resources for this, family friend Brandon Pelletier, is, ironically, heading off to college in August too. We have also been asked if we could create on-line courses as well and that is something we will be turning our attention to this fall. In a business where I've worn just about every single hat, this is that rare thing I don't think I can pull off without external expertise, but I do feel that I will have a little extra time to devote to developing these things. We will also be offering more kits. While our philosophy with students is to encourage hooking your own thing of your own design in your own chosen colors as soon as you possibly can, we know that kits can be very useful for beginners or also just a relaxing pastime for more experienced hookers. There will more classes and workshops offered in rug hooking and other skills and crafts at the Maine studio. Just as it's been all year, I will be teaching some, and bringing in other artisans and experts for others. I have found that I enjoy teaching more than almost anything else, and need to do more of it. Watch our Classes & Workshops website tab and our Facebook events tab as these are added. We have new soaps and other bath products set to come out for the holiday shopping season as well as a 2016 Parris House Wool Works Calendar. Look for these in the October/early November time frame. Finally, we started Parris House Wool Works because we love rug hooking. With our focus on patterns and supplies, and providing custom patterns and supplies on demand, sometimes same day for custom patterns, to both on line and in studio customers, guess what? I'm not doing a lot of rug hooking. That's also going to change this fall. We plan to offer more finished pieces, and more art pieces, particularly more pieces that reflect our own sources of inspiration and our own developing styles. The "hook what you love" mantra is going in to full effect. And that may be the most important thing of all. Hook what you love. I say it to students, hooking friends, people who ask my opinion. Just hook what you love, and let the chips fall where they may. That is the juncture where business becomes art and a way of life. When your nest empties, you do a lot of thinking about how you want to live your next life chapter, and the admonition "do what you love, love what you do," the one that started Parris House Wool Works to begin with, is the one that's with me most. Happy rest of the summer, happy impending fall, and happy hooking! - Beth

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